Jan Marshall

Resident Jan Marshall is a Humorologist, award-winning author, and humor columnist for adults and aspirational books for children. 

It had been three long years. I was dining with an ole beau. 

The menu had changed a bit reading like a situation comedy:

 Liver Come Back To Me, 

 Ike and Tina Tuna Steak (split and probably stale) and more.

Feeling extravagant we settled on caviar with chilled white wine as they were out of Manischewitz. 

Luxurious though simple. We gave the order to our waiter.

“So what do you want as your main course?” he asked.

“That’s it” 

“But that’s just an appetizer”. He sounded like my bubbie.

“That’s it.  Please bring us a few slices of thin pumpernickel with …”

“An appetizer comes with crackers. Order the complete meal and you’ll get bread like French, Rye or Parker rolls ”. He was pleading.

“Do you not have pumpernickel bread?” I asked  sweetly.

 “Yes. But not with the dinner or the caviar .”

 “Do you serve corn beef sandwiches”?

Deja vu. I flashed to Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces”.


“Are they served on pumpernickel bread if requested”?

 “Yes, they are, but …“

“So listen. Instead of putting the pumpernickel on a corned beef sandwich we do not want, bring us a few slices of pumpernickel hold the corned beef. Okay? ” and then-

“Okay, but I’ll have to charge you”, he said.

“This will probably cost just as much. ”

“That depends on what you mean by cost” I thought and left it at that not saying what was at the tip of my tongue.

However, I would not be as vulgar as Jack and simply said, “Fine”.

We had an exquisite dinner. True, it did cost as much as complete meals. That’s not the point. We ate a la carte. 

We did not have to have the basket of assorted breads, matzo, or choose an appetizer. We did not ingest the sinful dessert. Oh, how virtuous we felt!  We were not obliged to accept anything!

 We ate only what we wanted with much satisfaction. No more of  “I don’t need the calories but it is already paid for” or comes with my facilities monthly statement guilt.

That’s when it happened-a genuine “AHA” experience.

Eating a la carte.. Loving, and truly LIVING a la carte. Parallels sprang forth. 

Isn’t it often true that we tend to accept life’s “complete dinners” for the one or two items we really want while letting someone else put together the rest? 

We can choose all or anything in-between. Order Marlon Brandy, Kahlua Bankhead, or a Beef Encounter with a new acquaintance. 

Accepting whatever whole meal is offered may leave us full though not nourished.  Living a la Carte means filling our days only with  ”stuff” that is good and satisfying, according to ONLY us whenever possible and…

 it usually is. 


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